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Are You Ready for the Protect Duty Act?



With new legislation requiring high-capacity venues to devise security measures to protect staff, customers and visitors in the event of a terror attack, Richard Winstanley at BFT Automation offers advice on how Hostile Vehicle Mitigation can play a role in a protective security strategy …


Richard Winstanley


“Otherwise known as ‘Martyn’s Law’, the Protect Duty Act follows the campaign by Figen Murray, the mother of Martyn Hett, who was among those who tragically lost their lives in the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017. For readers who may not be familiar with the legislation, the new law has yet to come into force but it will require high-capacity venues such as nightclubs, arenas and theatres to devise and provide specific security plans in case of a terror attack.


The law will take a two-tiered approach, with a standard tier focused on high-capacity locations and a further tier for those with a capacity of more than 800 people at any time. Those larger destinations will be required to carry out a risk assessment to inform a “thorough” security plan.


As hostile vehicles have unfortunately become increasingly relied on by those seeking to launch an attack, a need for Hostile Vehicle Mitigation (HVM) should be among the factors considered when devising an anti-terror security strategy.


Certified and crash tested anti-terror bollards are a practical option to protect a venue against a hostile vehicle attack, but there are a number of points to consider before deciding which solution is best and it can be difficult to know where to start.


Assessing the risk


A risk assessment carried out by a suitably qualified person will naturally play a big part in deciding whether HVM measures are needed at your venue and, if so, which solution would work best for any of the risks identified.


Some examples of what a HVM risk assessment should include are:


* Identifying all vehicle access points


This includes looking at any weak areas that may be particularly vulnerable.


* An investigation of the local environment


The surrounding roads are likely to have an impact on the threat of HVM. For example, consider how traffic currently flows around your venue’s location and whether this can be reviewed to keep vehicles further away.


A hostile vehicle incident usually begins on public roads with little or no warning, but vehicles approaching the property will need an area of ‘run up’ in order to build up speed. If this is denied by the very nature of the road layout, the risk is reduced.


* Parking considerations


If the introduction of security barriers are likely to impact on access to parking facilities, there are measures that can be taken to address this, such as the use of automated bollards that can be lowered to allow entry.


* The immediacy of any threat


In circumstances where a venue is made aware of a clear and present threat to their premises, it’s possible to hire temporary security products while you search for a permanent solution.


These are just a few examples of what might be considered and manufacturers and installers of HVM solutions are well placed to support security teams in the risk assessment process if needed.


Fixed vs Automated


One of the first decisions to make before the introduction of bollards is whether it’s more appropriate to use a fixed or automated option.


Fixed bollards can present a clear, visible deterrent to potential attackers and are an ideal solution for venues in areas that are typically accessed via foot, by bike or where people congregate.


And in cases where the visual impact of bollards might jar with the aesthetics of the immediate setting, there are products available that can preserve the appearance of the surrounding environment, while providing safety. There are options for both colour and finish.


However, given the heavy reliance on vehicle access for the majority of venues, a solution such as retractable bollards come into play for all points where vehicles need to travel in and out of the site. This offers flexibility to accommodate temporary changes in traffic flow or events.



A note on aesthetics


For some venues, the idea of visible bollards may be off-putting. It might be that there’s no need for a visible deterrent and the visual impact of bollards might jar with the immediate setting. Or managers may be keen for customers and members of staff to feel safe without a reminder of any threat to security.


In such cases, there are anti-terrorism products available that can preserve the appearance of the surrounding environment, while providing safety by appearing as a row of planters as just one example.


Expert resources


A helpful starting point to find out more about the range of bollard options available is the National Protective Security Authority (NPSA), a Government-backed resource for physical and personnel protective security: www.npsa.gov.uk


Another useful resource is the Perimeter Security Suppliers Association (PSSA), which has a dedicated hub of information purely on HVM product that are manufactured, supplied and installed by its members: https://hvmhub.com/about/ Resources include advice on threat risk assessment, spec writing and installer selection tips.


A few points to consider are:


* The height and visibility of the bollards, particularly in low light conditions


* The ground conditions at a site, as permanent bollards require foundations into the ground


* The placement and spacing of bollards in relation to pedestrian movement


For more information on the Protect Duty legislation itself, the Government has prepared a useful factsheet, including details on the scope of the plans and how this is likely to be enforced: https://homeofficemedia.blog.gov.uk/2022/12/19/martyns-law-factsheet/


The threat of terrorism in the UK remains serious and, especially in light of the changes due to be imposed when the legislation comes into force, venues reviewing their protective security strategy will need reassurance that the measures they’re taking will go far enough to protect themselves against an attack.


As Figen Murray has said: “Martyn’s Law isn’t going to stop terrorism, but common-sense security, and making sure venues are doing all they can to keep people safe, could mean fewer suffer what myself and the families of Manchester have had to endure.”


HVM has an important role to play when forming an effective physical security strategy for venues looking to protect themselves from a potential act of terror or any other serious crimes where a hostile vehicle could be used. Protecting property and, most importantly, those who visit or work there.”


BFT Automation is part of the Somfy group. For more information visit: www.bftautomationuk.com


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